- The Canadiens held an optional practice at Madison Square Garden on Thursday morning. With the exception of Brandon Prust, all players were on the ice. Michel Therrien confirmed Prust would be available to play on Thursday night, but wouldn’t tip his hat regarding his finalized Game 3 roster.
“It’s nice that you’re trying, but I’m only going to reveal my roster tonight. There could be some adjustments,” he said, hinting at the possibility of shaking things up for the first road game of the series.
- Wheeling Nailers goaltender Mike Condon made the trip to New York with the team but was not on the ice for practice. Carey Price (lower body) is also with the team, but for Therrien, the reasoning behind carrying four goalies in the postseason isn’t rocket science.
“It’s pretty simple: if something happens to our goalie, we need to put our third goalie on the bench,” he explained of bringing the ECHL netminder with him to the Big Apple. “We had the choice between Patrick Langlois, who is our assistant equipment manager, and Mike Condon, so…”
- As confirmed on Wednesday, Dustin Tokarski will get his second career NHL postseason start between the pipes on Thursday night, and will be looking to build on the 27-save performance from his playoff debut. While the 24-year-old is still getting his feet wet at the NHL level, this isn’t his first taste of high-stakes hockey, having won the Telus Cup in Midget, the Memorial Cup and World Junior Hockey Championships in Junior, and the Calder Cup in the AHL, helping inspire faith in the rookie netminder among his dressing room peers.
“We have a lot of confidence in him,” confirmed Max Pacioretty. “He’s a great goaltender. Recently I found out he’s had a lot of success at every level so that says a lot about his character and his personality. He didn’t look nervous at all in the last game, and in a situation like that you wouldn’t expect that. He looks confident to me and he played a great game. We need him to keep playing like that.”
- Having trailed the Boston Bruins before roaring back from a 3-2 series deficit to win the Conference semifinals in Game 7, the Canadiens have some experience with pulling off comeback wins this spring. While the storyline ahead of Game 3 may seem familiar to those who tuned in before Game 6 against the Bruins, Dale Weise insists there’s a big difference between facing elimination in Round 2 and facing an opportunity to make it a 2-1 series in Round 3.
“This is a whole different ballpark than being down 3-2 in Boston, but we have to come out with that same urgency. When you’re down 3-2 in a series, you’re not panicking, but the urgency is there. We’re not there yet,” he stressed. “This is 2-0 and we’re a very capable team on the road.
“I can’t put my finger on exactly what it is, but we’re very comfortable playing on the road,” added Weise, whose team is 4-2-0 on road ice this postseason. “This is a great building to play in. The atmosphere is going to be amazing. We’re very confident and I really think we’re going to come out with a strong effort tonight.”
- Having scored just three goals in two games against the Rangers after potting 36 in 11 previous playoff games, the Canadiens will be looking to tip, jam and backdoor their way past Henrik Lundqvist in Game 3. Almost doubling their shot totals from 22 to 41 between Games 1 and 2, the Habs made sure the All-Star netminder was kept busy on Monday night, but Josh Gorges knows it will take more than just throwing extra rubber at the Rangers’ net to beat “King Henrik”.
“I said last game that if he sees it, he’s going to stop it. He’s that good,” stressed the veteran blue-liner. “We have to get in his face. We have to make him play deep in his net and make his life miserable and be there for second opportunities. It’s not easy to beat him one-on-one. We have to make his life more difficult.”
- Lighting the lamp more frequently will most likely coincide with the Canadiens rediscovering their previous power play magic. Going 10-for-38 with the man advantage through the first two rounds of the playoffs, the Habs entered the Conference finals riding a 26.3% power play efficiency, but have gone 0-for-7 so far against the Blueshirts. Getting his special teams back on track will be a big part of Therrien’s game plan heading into Game 3.
“We have to be better not just on our power play, but on our penalty kill, too,” said the Habs’ bench boss, whose PK unit has given up four goals on 10 Rangers’ power play opportunities after allowing just five power play markers in the first two series combined. “After the first two games, we know we need to be better to have success. We have to make some adjustments, but we also have to go back to basics and make better decisions. Our power play has to play with more intensity and on the penalty kill, we lost a lot of battles that let the Rangers take advantage of their opportunities.”
Puck drop at MSG is slated for 8:00 p.m. EDT.
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